Crisis reveals character, something I witnessed many times during my years as a youth worker on the rough streets around Ladbroke Grove. When times are tough we find out who we truly are, both as people and as communities.
Right now, times are tough. The toughest they’ve been since the Second World War. The coronavirus has slowed the world’s greatest and busiest city – along with much of the world – to a crawl. There is, however, some light amidst the gloom: the response of Londoners and London’s businesses to coronavirus has been extraordinary.
Londoners are looking out for each other in ways big and small in the midst of this crisis. From those checking in on their elderly neighbours, to streets and communities setting up shopping groups on Whatsapp to care for families under quarantine, the response at a personal level has been brilliant. And our city’s response to the call to clap for our carers. I’ve no problem telling you that I shed a tear.
The response from business, whether sole traders, start ups, or big corporations, has also been stellar. Our historic black cab trade wants to ferry our NHS heroes to and from work, as do newer services like Uber, while chain restaurants like Pret a Manger and Leon are offering up discounted or free nosh for key workers.
And let’s not forget the dedicated service of all of the workers at Transport for London and the train services that ferry Londoners, who are doing their best in very tricky conditions.
Hopefully, TfL will soon be able to put on even more trains by bringing back retired drivers, redeploying those on the night tube, along with station staff from shuttered stations. We must do everything we can to make journeys safe for our key workers.
Londoners won’t forget who did the right thing when it mattered, and nor will I. That’s why I will make a company’s response during the coronavirus epidemic a consideration in City Hall procurement under my administration.
If you did right by Londoners during this time of crisis, I will view you favourably when I become Mayor. And my administration will also remember those who turned away in our time of need.
Dark as the cloud might now be, its silver lining has been the rediscovery of community. Let’s remember that, as well as the importance of character when the sun comes back out and London swings back into motion.
Shaun Bailey is Conservative candidate for London Mayor